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Merello employed patience and local knowldege in a determined effort to ride the biggest waves, overcoming his more experienced challengers. Being a goofy-footer in the reeling lefts was no handicap either... Merello's defeat of a stellar international field of big wave riders was inspired by his mother, who is battling cancer, and by his community. The win was made all the sweeter by being in front of a huge home crowd. Adding to the moment, all of the surfers competing today came together to present a total of $15,000 to local fishermen from the village who lost their homes during the February 8.8 earthquake and ensuing tsunami. "When I found out (I had won), it was really, really special for me," said Merello. "But it wasn't just for me, it was for my mother, who is in an intense battle with cancer and going through some brutal treatment. It was for me, for her and the entire community. We've all been through a lot."© 2014 Saavedraphoto/Courtesy Quiksilver
Runner-up was Peru's Gabriel Villaran, pictured, whose performances throughout the competition were nothing short of inspired.© 2014 Courtesy Quiksilver
Villaran only added to his reputation of being one of the most well rounded surfers on the planet, doling out many high-risk manoeuvres, typically reserved for flamboyant small wave surfing.© 2014 Courtesy Quiksilver
Peter Mel took a break from commentating to take 3rd place. Scoring in big wave surfing doubles the points of your best ride before adding the second score -- thus forcing surfers to nail the biggest of the heat.© 2014 Courtesy Quiksilver
From a spectator's perspective, Punta de Lobos is a venue akin to a the Colosseum, except here instead of baying for blood the super enthusiastic crowd hoot and holler letting the surfers know when a set is approaching. It seemed half of Chile and bit of Peru had rocked up to spectate.© 2014 Courtesy Quiksilver
Jamie Sterling missed most of the North Pacific El Nino season due to injury and it was good to see him charging here again into a solid 4th place.© 2014 Escobarphoto.com/Courtesy Quiksilver
Hawaii's Mark Healey (placed 5th), wasn't alone in praising Merello. "He had that local knowledge and was straight into the biggest and best waves," said Healey. "The conditions really changed throughout the day and he was the best at adapting. I've surfed with Cristian on previous visits here, but outside of Chile, or South America, people probably haven't heard of him. "But that's how it is with big wave riding, there are going to be people like him that come out of nowhere, so to speak. It's a different way of surfing and you've really got to want it. He definitely wanted it today. "Some of the waves were really barreling, and it's a point, so it's totally different to what we're usually riding in Hawaii. Plus it's a left, so no excuses for me! I got a couple of tubes early in the day, so it was good."© 2014 Courtesy Quiksilver
What with commentators adding up scores on pencil and paper, finally finding a calculator, not being able to see the surfer due to glare, instant replays uploaded via Vimeo -- this event was a wonderful combination of how you think surfing should be, (real) coupled with an innovative utilisation of new media. It'll change, the webcast will get slicker, the sponsors will open their money bags wider, all things which will progress the sport and are necessary. All we say is enjoy watching the new big thing in its relative infancy and love it for what it is. Big waves, big balls and not very big egos.© 2014 Courtesy Quiksilver
Make the drop here at size for the ride of your year (if you weren't in a comp) this wave breaks for about a mile down the point.© 2014 Courtesy Quiksilver
When people say this wave barrels it's no joke. Being a pointbreak it also has no max-out point. The potential for a 100ft barrel people? Something to aim for at least... Here Pato Texeira gets shacked on a 9ft board 20ft from the rocks, not the easiest of tasks.© 2014 Courtesy Quiksilver
The day dawned small with the forecasts promising a massive swell, starting small, but building quickly throughout the day and fingers were gently crossed. After a brief delay it all kicked off in eminently contestable conditions before the swell really kicked into gear for the semis and finals.© 2014 Courtesy Quiksilver
If Jack Kerouac surfed he would have chewed his beatnik leg off to get on this trip. Desert Point to Shipstern and everything in between.
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From Europe to the West Coast of the States Alex Botelho had one hell of a season
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